Meewella | Fragments

The Life of P

Month: April 2013

Musically Connected

Stepping Out

About a month ago I joked that musically, if nothing else, this year works. I realised in a recent conversation that because, entirely by coincidence, a bunch of friends and acquaintances are all releasing new albums this year, I probably sound far better connected than I actually am. I fully expect the number to drop to zero next year. But for now, I have three album releases to bring to your attention.

I have mentioned jazz singer/pianist Anthony Strong here before, though arguably not as often as I ought. Recently signed to French label Naive records, his new album Stepping Out is fantastic. Quite aside from the fact we have known each other since primary school, the album’s quality has now been independently verified after the reception it received at Keggfest. Meanwhile Lauren and I can both attest that the launch party at the Hippodrome casino was a roaring success, requiring some remedying the following day!

Georgia Train of Bitter Ruin

Whilst they have continued to play regular live shows, honing their sound and exploring new ways to increase their exposure, it has been several years since Bitter Ruin released a full-length album. Now Georgia and Ben have turned to Kickstarter to fund their new album after some calculations revealed it would be cheaper to build their own studio than to pay for the studio time they need. Having put up the first £10,000, they needed another £20,000 from Kickstarter. They need not have been apprehensive given the overwhelming support they received, with the entire sum being pledged within 12 hours. They have ten days left to go, and further funds will help with session musicians and the like, as well as securing you some cool merch. Give it a look, if only for the brilliant animated video that charts the pair’s history condensed to a couple of minutes. Personally, I am rather excited to see the end results of the full canvas paintings Georgia has been working on for one of the higher reward tiers.

Jaz Delorean of Tankus the Henge

Finally, although I have seen Jaz Delorean play solo sets on  regular basis, I had neglected to see his band Tankus the Henge, despite the fact I am hardly in a position to fault their nocturnal habits (routinely going on-stage around midnight). The release of their debut album seemed like an ideal opportunity to rectify this oversight, with a brilliant launch show at The Lexington. About as difficult to categorise as Bitter Ruin, Jaz describes his gravelly vocals as “like a younger Tom Waits” which is “crossed with Madness” once you add the full band. With smoke billowing out of an upright piano adorned with piping and dials as their fans cavort in steampunk attire, their live shows are certainly quite a sight. You can catch them all round the UK this summer.

Couple these three with finally seeing Sigur Rós in February and Voltaire in May, and you can see why I am suitably content to rely on music to see me through the year, if nothing else will. Any other recommendations are welcome as always.

Divisive in Death

Margaret Thatcher

Few deaths have proved quite so divisive as that of Margaret Thatcher, on the one hand lauded as a hugely successful female role-model* and a Conservative Prime Minister who led Britain confidently on the world stage, and on the other vilified for trampling over the Unions and systematically dismantling the welfare state. As these two sides clashed via social media, a third wave emerged ostensibly to remind people that it is never right to celebrate the death of another human being.

This is true, of course. But it also misses the point entirely and, indeed, a point many of her supporters do not seem to realise about their own comments. Few of Thatcher’s detractors are actually launching an attack on her personally, however their comments are phrased; what they revile is Thatcher the icon, the Conservative ideal. Some will have personal experience of severe family turmoil caused by policies she enacted, but she is largely a figurehead for that understandably emotional response. Similarly, her proponents are rarely showing admiration on a truly personal level. Rather, they are demonstrating support for the ideas she championed, what she represented to them.

Quite aside from celebrating anyone’s demise, the notion that one should not speak ill of the dead is archaic nonsense. When a friend or family member dies, I hate hearing their life whitewashed in eulogies. They are talking about someone I barely recognise. The best, most touching eulogies are those which accept the deceased as unique and flawed. At my Uncle Rajan’s funeral early this year, I loved that the speakers described his passion and the strength of his friendship but also touched upon his flaws. There was no need to dwell on them, of course, but it meant that the church filled with family and friends could smile wistfully and remember the man we knew, not some sterilised Hallmark interpretation of him.

Famous deaths inevitably lead to a dichotomy correlating to proximity. For close family and friends, such deaths are just like any other: deeply personal. But for the rest of us, we have only our artificial “relationship” with the deceased, wholly impersonal and based upon our perception of who they were and what they stood for. Choosing what someone means to us inevitably leads to extremes. It seems impossible to find a “middle ground” Thatcher; those articles which have attempted it tend to list off both extremes rather than achieving any true equilibrium.

I have no idea how Thatcher truly wished to be remembered. All I know is this: when I am dead, I would much rather have people vocally disagree over the choices I made and how I lived than to be praised for being someone I never was.

* I avoid the word “feminist” here since I find myself agreeing with Russell Brand’s assessment that “she is an icon of individualism, not of feminism.”

"Civilization now depends on self-deception. Perhaps it always has."

(CC) BY-NC 2004-2023 Priyan Meewella

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